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Rasmussen: Whitman vs. Jerry Brown Tight Race

Thursday, 10 Jun 2010 01:54 PM


Meg Whitman’s mega-win in Tuesday’s Republican primary has thrown her into a virtual tie once again with Democrat Jerry Brown in the race to be the next governor of California.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in California shows Brown with 45 percent of the vote, while Whitman earns 44 percent support. Four percent (4 percent) prefer some other candidate, and seven percent (7 percent) are undecided.

Brown led Whitman 45 percent to 41 percent late last month but the two have been tied three times in surveys stretching back to September. Brown’s support in the match-ups with Whitman has remained in the narrow range of 41 percent to 45 percent. Whitman, in those same surveys, has earned 35 percent to 43 percent of the vote.

Despite a heated primary battle with state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, 83 percent of Republicans now back Whitman’s candidacy. Brown, who was unchallenged for his party’s nomination, draws 74 percent of Democratic votes. Voters not affiliated with either party break even.

During intense primary battles, supporters of one candidate often say they won't vote for the party nominee in November. That was the case in 2008 as a large number of Hillary Clinton's supporters said they were not likely to support Barack Obama in the general election campaign. However, by Election Day, most Clinton supporters came home and voted for their party's nominee.

Seventy-four percent (74 percent) of conservatives in the state favor Whitman, the former CEO of eBay. Eighty percent (80 percent) of liberals like Brown, a longtime political figure in California who is currently serving as attorney general.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has criticized Arizona’s new immigration law, and Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose have voted to boycott Arizona because of the law. But just 36 percent of California voters think the U.S. Department of Justice should challenge the legality of the Arizona law as the Obama administration is reportedly considering. Fifty-three percent (53 percent) oppose such a legal challenge. Support for a challenge is slightly higher in California than it is nationally.

Sixty-seven percent (67 percent) of those who favor a legal challenge of the Arizona law support Brown. Whitman earns 65 percent support from those who are opposed to any such challenge.

Sixty-one percent (61 percent) of all voters in the state believe the U.S. military should be used along the Mexican border to help prevent illegal immigration, slightly lower than support among voters nationwide. Thirty percent (30 percent) disagree.

Brown is now viewed very favorably by 20 percent of California voters and very unfavorably by 31 percent.

Sixteen percent (16 percent) have a very favorable opinion of Whitman, while 21 percent regard her very unfavorably.

Both candidates are well-known to voters in the state, but at this point in a campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.

Thirty percent (30 percent) approve of the job Schwarzenegger is doing as governor, while 67 percent disapprove. Schwarzenegger is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.

The survey of 500 likely voters in California was conducted on June 9, 2010, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

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